8 steps for developing a syllabus

syllabus_start_wby Julie Dodd

The major assignment for Mass Communication Teaching is for you to develop a syllabus for an undergraduate communications course and create course materials, including an exam or major project and lesson plans.

The process for developing this syllabus will help you prepare for all the syllabi that you will be developing if you go into teaching.

1. Determine the schedule for your class. You are designing a three-credit course. Will it meet for three hours once a week, one hour three times a week, or meet for two hours one day and one hour another day?

McKeachie's Teaching Tips provides great advice and strategies for planning your syllabus.

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips provides great advice and strategies for planning your syllabus.

2. Plan your course to match the university calendar. Download the UF academic calendar for 2013-2014 and use the calendar to map out the class dates.

3. Determine how your course fits into the curriculum. What level is the course (1000, 2000, 3000, 4000)? Determine what courses will be prerequisites for your course. That will help you know what competencies your students will be bringing into your course.

4. Decide on required course materials. What will be the required textbook(s)? Will you have online readings? Does your course require any software or hardware?

5. Develop the course policies and procedures. The University of Florida provides guidelines of what should be included in your syllabus. Download the PDF and use it as a checklist as you begin writing your syllabus. syllabi_policy

6. Decide what will the basis of the students’ grades. Working with 100 percent, you will determine what will constitute the graded assignments and how much each will count — exams, quizzes, individual projects, group projects, class participation, homework, etc.

7. Plan when to have assignments due. Spread assignments throughout the semester. Build in low-risk assignments to help students prepare for assignments that are major grades. Give at least one quiz before you give the big exam. Have students turn in a short writing assignment for feedback before a big paper is due. Divide projects into stages.

8. Read McKeachie’s Teaching Tips for advice on planning a syllabus — and then for advice for planning assignments.

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